Day 12

Today, and the remainder of my walk, are dedicated to Cedar – a beautiful young man who called this coast home, and who took his own life on this shore, just a week and a half ago. 

These miles are dedicated to all of our challenged, confused youth who don’t know where to turn, and have not found the guidance or support they need. 

Any perseverance and endurance I can muster, and the resounding love that is our very fabric, are dedicated to Kata, and all the mothers of the world who have known such incomprehensible loss. 

May we all find  our way home—our realignment with Spirit.

Today I passed through Fort Bragg and the area north of it—where Cedar lived for the last 8 years. I passed the cemetery where he will be buried next Tuesday. And I passed 10-mile beach where he overdosed on opioids in a suicide pact with a friend (the friend survived). 

I am camping about 5 miles north of there,  under a grove of giant cypress. I welcome the opportunity to be immersed in this place that Cedar loved—to simply receive in balanced compassion whatever this place offers.

Kata told me during a phone call this morning that she had set up a Go-Fund-Me account to help pay for the astronomical expenses of burying her son ($13,000 and counting). I am offering the link to it here as I imagine that many of you following this story will be inclined to help:

If you want to send Kata words of compassion, the understanding of personal experience, or finances untaxed by Go-Fund-Me, you can send them direct to this address:

Kata Jeremias
16631 Pine Drive
Fort Bragg, CA 95437

This was a day of connection—of all sorts. Passing through town, I looked into a cafe window to see Symposium and personal friend Jini Reynolds—from Redwood Valley—enjoying breakfast with husband Peter. 

Several miles later, sitting down for a minute in front of the Cleone Market I ran across a new-to-me, remarkable human, Troy Blanchard. Troy, probably around 40, was in a wheelchair, and challenged by body contortions and spasms. He pointed out that there was free food available around the corner of the building, and offered me water from his own supply. 

Troy smoked a cigarette as I ate my cabbage and jerky lunch, and told me his story. He explained how most people assumed that his lack of body control was due to alcohol or drugs, but that it was caused by Parkinson’s Disease which he had had his whole life. A month ago, he left his home in New Orleans, wheeling himself to LA in his wheelchair. Early on in his trip he was targeted by a hit-and-run hater, who intentionally drove into him in his chair, on the side of the road. The resulting injury cost him his left arm below the elbow. 

Troy is a heavy equipment operator, with a job waiting for him in Oregon. That’s where he’s headed. 

After we had been sitting/talking/eating in front of the store for about 10 minutes, Troy asked if we might walk together up the road. 

“I would be honored.”

Just then, the store owner came by and asked if Troy and I were together. 

“I just met him,” I said (a little confused as to why he would care), “but it looks like we will be walking together.” 

A moment later a very kind and apologetic employee came out to tell us that her boss wanted us to move on. It left a peculiar sourness in my stomach to slowly understand the reality of why we were being asked to leave. I realized how very privileged I am to expect that when I smile and wave at the world, it will smile and wave back at me.

The pawn of this businessman’s intolerance, Linda, had clearly befriended Troy. She called him by name and gave him money as we packed up. She also donated $20 to the Women’s Herbal Symposium. 

They’ve got it all at the Cleone Market: 

Discrimination/hate/fear and love/compassion/generosity, all moving in vibrant action, just like the rest of our world. 

“I’ll catch up with you”, Troy told me as he turned for the bathroom. So I started out ahead, more than a little concerned about the tiny margins of safety on the roads and Troy’s physical instability. 

Smelling a skunk which turns out to be a dead raccoon (how does that work?), I stop to take a photo. Looking back, Troy’s not there yet. Several long stretches looking back I can’t see him at all. 

After 2 miles I see Andrea, who has been keeping in touch with me since before the walk started. She has set up a rest stop complete with chairs, fruit, drinks, flowers and a little table with cloth, right there on the side of the road!!

OMG! This is the sweetest thing I can imagine! She even somehow knew my very favorite liquid treat, coconut water WITH PULP! How awesome is that?!

Just as I am arriving at Andrea’s pop-up party, who comes chugging up behind, but Troy. I commented on his ability to catch up and he answered with a grin, “I couldn’t let an older lady smoke me!”

Many showed curiosity about our unlikely social gathering in the pullout. One woman even stopped to ask if we were having a party. “Yes“, we told her. 

“What are you celebrating?“ she asked. Looking around at the connection point of three distinctly different lives, I could think of only one answer, “The human spirit!“

Troy decided at that point, that his wheelchair was too much of a handicap on the road. He left it with Andrea to donate and she drove him to Westport, advising him to hitchhike across to 101. 

I wake up in the middle of the night—a million stars accentuating the darkness of the dead (new) moon. The morning fog has not rolled in yet. I am awake because my body has now relaxed enough to digest, and also to contemplate the intensity of our lives—Kata, Cedar, Troy, and all the rest of us in the Grand Dance. 

Kata mentioned in our phone call today, how it felt like she had done this with Cedar before, for many lifetimes. She compared it to the movie, Groundhog Day—this cycle that they seemed somehow locked into.

It is the nature of humanity to explore the contours of God/spirit—all the way to the distant edges. We cannot know contentment until we know what it is to be discontent. We cannot experience happiness without sadness. We cannot value peace until we have experienced struggle and pain.

And so we spin through our interesting times—lives of polarization and extreme—until we can find our balance point, our realignment with God, the penetrating recognition and acceptance of our own perfection.